Mar. 28, 2013
Denmark’s environment protection agency is consulting on further restricting the use of the herbicide bentazon over concerns that it can contaminate water.
New data based on modelling suggest a high risk of groundwater contamination when spraying clover grown for seed production. This is because restrictions on bentazon use imposed by the country in the 1990s do not apply to clover.
Field trials being conducted to verify the modelling results are ongoing. But the agency is unwilling to wait for the results before taking action. Restrictions for clover cultivation could be adopted before next spring’s spraying season, following three consultation meetings scheduled for next month.
Bentazon is used to control weeds in a range of crops, such as peas and maize. The application of permitted concentrations is not associated with groundwater pollution.
Statistics published by Denmark’s environment ministry last year revealed that Danish farmers continue to use more pesticides and herbicides and that the toxicity of the substances sprayed on crops is also increasing.
European water industry association Eureau called for severe EU-wide restrictions on the herbicide nearly 12 years ago.
The directive on water pollution adopted in 2008 does not restrict the use of bentazon. Like herbicide glyphosate and several other chemicals, it was included in an annex of substances that would be reviewed in future.
But in its proposal to revise the directive in 2012, the European Commission found there was insufficient evidence to add these herbicides to a list of priority substances regulated under the directive. The EU executive is likely to assess the need for restrictions in the light of new evidence from countries such as Denmark.
On Wednesday, member state representatives in Brussels are expected to approve a partial agreement on the revised directive struck last week during a final trialogue meeting with negotiators from the European Parliament and the commission.